Anson Williams… King of Freestyle Chess

Anson Williams enroute to victory at the First Advanced Chess Tournament.

Many may not have heard of Anson Williams, but in the world of “advanced” or “freestyle” chess, he is a household name. This form of chess allows each player to bring any amount of chess materials to the game… databases, books, kibitzers, endgame tablebases, etc. A couple of months ago, Nelson Hernandez e-mailed me and told me about Anson Williams, a resident of London and engineer. Hernandez described himself as a teammate of the Ibermax team gave some insight on advanced chess:

This may sound like easy work compared to OTB chess but it really isn’t when you consider that your opponent can do the same things and thus has a formidable array of resources as well.  It is also quite a trick to orchestrate all these things in real time so as to play the best possible chess. …

My role: I am one of Anson’s teammates; my role is rather specialized.  During these tournaments I am minimally involved and spectacularly indolent as I watch Anson demolish his opponents.  Between tournaments I am very actively involved in his opening preparation.  This is paradoxical, actually, because I am not a chess player.  I approach the game entirely from an analytic, computer-oriented point of view. 

Williams recently won the First Advanced Chess Tournament with a 6.5/8 score. ChessBase covered the story and stated that he flew to Benidom, Spain from his home in London to compete with his two “quad-core” laptops. The ChessBase article stated,

With this latest tournament victory, combined with his 7th PAL/CSS Freestyle win and consistent finalist placement in prior tournaments, Williams has emerged as one of the leading Freestylers in the world, all the more remarkable because neither he nor any of his teammates are rated players; they are all pure computer chess specialists. Yet against top-flight computer-assisted competition Williams has scored 23 wins against only one defeat in the last four significant Freestyle tournaments, spanning 51 games. We can only wonder if the unconventional Anson and this Benidorm tournament are portents of things to come!

Williams with a player who knows a thing or two about Advanced Chess.
Of course, that’s World Champion Viswanathan Anand.

Official Site
ChessBase, “First Advanced Chess Tournament,” 21 December 2007.
Ibermax information sheet… interview and games. (Adobe Acrobat needed)


  1. IBERMAX TEAM (“Cato the Younger”)

    Anson Williams, 27, was the team leader. A veteran centaur player, he is a Telecommuncations Engineer / Software developer, and skilled with computer hardware. He is an unrated OTB chess player. As “Intagrand” he has placed 3rd in the 4th Freestyle tournament, his team consisting of the same cast of characters. Among his interests are bowling and J.S. Bach, which he plays about as well as he Freestyles. A graduate of Imperial College with a Masters degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Anson now lives in London.

    Yingheng Chen, 24, a graduate of The London School of Economics (LSE). She assisted Anson with analysis during all nine games of the finals. Her interests also include bowling, badminton, cycling and reading. Through much exposure to computer chess (solely because of Anson) she has picked up some useful analysis skills and was a great asset during the tournament.

    Nelson Hernandez, 50, lives in the United States and did not participate in the games as an active player. However he has collaborated for years in developing the team’s book, and with Anson is a tournament co-strategist. A former paratrooper and stockbroker, he is now a financial analyst. He is also an unrated player, and says he hasn’t played a competitive game of chess OTB in over 20 years. The team name of “Cato” comes from his admiration of the principled Roman Senator who vainly opposed Caesar and finally fell on his sword.

  2. Daaim – Fascinating story. Congratulations to Mr Williams and his team. Just shows what a sharp brother can accomplish with the right set of tools (and team) 🙂

    Happy Holidays!

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